Research Handbooks in Business and Management series
Edited by Alexander Nill
Chapter 14: What drives ethics education in business schools? Studying influences on ethics in the MBA curriculum
Management education in general and teaching Master of Business Administration (MBA) students in particular is subject to scrutiny and many researchers and practitioners continue to debate in what ways teaching has to change (Bennis and O’Toole 2005). In light of the global economic downturn and the financial crisis many business schools were criticized for graduating MBAs lacking professionalism, leadership and integrity (Skapinker 2010). While we see the economy in disarray and cases of fraud and corruption prevail, critics are wondering if business schools and MBA programs may have contributed to such developments. Critics not only challenge the neglect of ethics but also how it is taught in a world where profit maximization still is predominant (Ghoshal 2005; Giacalone and Thompson 2006; Christensen et al. 2007; Wagner Weick 2008). The core of the problem seems to be that ‘instead of being viewed as long-term economic stewards, . . . managers came to be seen mainly as the agents of the owners – the shareholders – and responsible for maximizing shareholder wealth’ (Holland 2009). Such fundamental critique puts a question mark behind the current status of ethics education in MBA programs. In line with existing research we use the umbrella term ‘ethics education’ as a descriptor for courses covering social, environmental and/or ethical topics (see also Evans et al. 2006; Swanson and Fisher 2008, 2011).
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